SI Vault
Frank Deford
February 05, 1979
It has been many years since I have written about Hot Rod Hundley, and to account for this, I must begin with a personal episode. Years ago Rod and I were out together one evening in Manhattan, up to no good. It is my view that athletes—especially glib, boyish All-Americas—are of foremost value to the press in helping to pick up girls. Sure enough, Rod came through. Alas, one of the laws of urban civilization is that two good-looking women never travel together, so naturally Rod kept the prize of the pair for himself. Nonetheless, as the evening wore on it seemed to me that Rod's lady was actually sending fond glances my way. However, every time I tried so much as to say hello to her, she looked away.
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February 05, 1979

Hot Rod Is Hitting The Road Again

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Hundley possesses one natural microphone asset, a voice that rolls in like fog, and he has added to it a distinctive style: no s's. That is, singular subjects get short plural verbs, i.e., "Goody right to left front court, angle left to Jimmy Mac, terminate the belt-high dribble, whip it down to Haywood, penetrate the baseline and score!"

But s's aside, even before he was an announcer, Rod liked imitating announcers, and one of his more conspicuous charms is that he sees the pretension and excess in his profession. He enjoys nothing better than parodying himself. One evening when Truck Robinson, the Jazz Player of the Game, failed to show up for his postgame interview, Hundley went right ahead and interviewed Robinson anyway, playing both parts. Hundley even went so far as to award Robinson-Hundley a gift certificate. "Thanks for joining us. Truck," he said. Replied Truck-Rod, "It's always a pleasure to speak with you, Hot." On other occasions, when Pete Maravich makes a spectacular shot, Hundley will drop into his formal announcer's voice and actually say, "A gentle push, a mild arc and the cowhide globe hits home." (Note to pretty girls in bars: That's the kind of stuff I write down when I hear it.)

So, hey! Rod out of the NBA, angle left into sneaker sales, yo-yo, drop it off into color, whip under to New Orleans, penetrate the play-by-play, fake left, go right, spin up a 15-foot network hopper.... It has taken a long time, but Hot Rod is ready now to take his best shot.

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